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A lengthy investigation into suspicious vehicle purchases at a Daytona Beach dealership culminates with seven people now facing various fraud-related charges for illegally purchasing seven vehicles with the stolen identities of elderly people who are either deceased or living in other parts of Florida.
With assistance from various other Florida law enforcement agencies and the state Attorney General’s Office, the Financial Crimes Unit (FCU) of the Daytona Beach Police Department (DBPD) is now in the process of arresting five of the seven defendants involved in Operation Soul Stingers after a Volusia County judge signed those arrest warrants earlier this week.
All but one of the illegal vehicle purchases – which total out to over $350,000 – happened at the Daytona KIA dealership between July 2021 and September 2021, according to DBPD Police Chief Jakari Young.
“To take advantage of anyone like this is reprehensible, but especially those who are elderly,” Chief Young added. “Our fraud detectives did great to sort through this maze and we couldn’t have done it without the help of our law enforcement partners.”
One of the masterminds – 46-year-old Drayton D. McMillan of DeLand – has been an inmate at Volusia County Jail (VCJ) since last September. He is currently on probation for grand theft and forgery in an unrelated matter.
This investigation began in July 2021 when one of the victims – an elderly man living in Delray Beach – discovered that someone used his identity without his knowledge to purchase a vehicle at Daytona KIA. He reported it to the Delray Beach Police Department, who then informed us about it.
More fraudulent purchases from this group of defendants were discovered at Daytona KIA as FCU members verified the information received from the victim in Delray Beach.
Investigators believe this group – led by McMillan and 26-year-old Shaquiledra R. Johnson – obtained the social security numbers, driver’s license numbers and other kinds of personal identifying information (PII) from nine elderly people so they could drive away from the dealerships with these vehicles.
Six of the victims live in the South Florida area, including two in Boynton Beach, two in Delray Beach, one in Boca Raton and one in Pembroke Pines. Another victim who lived in Boynton Beach passed away in 2018 and one who lived in Delray Beach passed away in 2019. The ninth victim is from Welaka in Putnam County.
Using that PII, the defendants created fake identification cards and papers which they handed to dealership employees in order to open credit lines which were then used to obtain the seven KIA vehicles from the dealerships. Those include three Stingers, two Souls, a Forte and a K5.
All of the seven vehicles involved came from Daytona KIA except for one of the Stingers, which was obtained from the Hyundai of Fort Myers dealership last July. All but one of the Stingers have since been recovered.
In many of these cases, the defendants involved used their real photos and addresses in the fake ID cards in order to get through the initial security checks at the dealerships. Some went to the website of the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles and changed the victims’ PII so that it matched the fake ID’s they created.
Signatures of the victims were also forged on the vehicle contracts by the defendants, either at the dealerships before leaving with the vehicles or when employees delivered the vehicles to wherever the defendants told them to.
Investigators found over 650 fraudulent documents inside McMillan’s cell phone soon after he was arrested in the DeLand area last September by the Volusia Sheriff’s Office (VSO) while driving one of the stolen Stingers. Those documents were seized as evidence around three weeks after McMillan’s initial arrest once FCU detectives got a signed search warrant from a Volusia County judge to forensically examine his phone, which he had on him when he was pulled over.
Based on what was found in McMillan’s phone, detectives managed to track down at least four more fraud victims. In those cases, investigators found cell phone purchases made in the victims’ names along with fraudulent checks and applications for credit cards and unemployment benefits. At least one of the victims whose name was used in the vehicle fraud was also victimized in this manner.
Also discovered were applications in the victims’ names for various kinds of loans, including COVID-19 related loans through the Small Business Administration.
More charges are possible as this investigation remains active and ongoing. Detectives are still going through the information found in McMillan’s phone in order to identify more victims and to determine exactly how this group got their hands on the victims’ PII. Based on what FCU has found so far, there could be over 70 additional victims, most of whom are based in South Florida.
The defendants’ names and charges filed against them are as follows:
Drayton Danthony McMillan (DeLand resident - Arrested 09/22/2021)
Shaquiledra Renee Johnson (DeLand resident)
Thomas James Taylor Jr. (Daytona Beach resident)
Jennifer Rose Polgar (DeLand resident – Arrested 01/20/2022)
Erick Jerrell Gilbert (DeLeon Springs resident)
Shatequa Trivera Burson (DeLand resident)
Freddie Lee Farley (DeLand resident)
We’d like to thank the Delray Beach Police Department, the DeLand Police Department, the Florida Highway Patrol and VSO for their assistance in this operation.